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Interpleader Action Dismissed for No Jurisdiction

As decedent’s former wife has died and has been dismissed from this interpleader action filed by plaintiff life insurance carrier, there is no longer a party adverse to the other claimants, two sisters who are decedent’s daughters, and the Newport News U.S. District Court dismisses the interpleader action for lack of jurisdiction.

When a party to proceedings dies, and no party is substituted, Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(a)(2) permits the action to continue if the right sought to be enforced survives. In this case, once Bergstresser is dismissed as a party, only Snawder and Zaremba are left as defendants and the case may continue only if the right sought to be enforced by Met Life survives. However, because Snawder and Zaremba are not adverse claimants, the right sought to be enforced does not survive. As a result, the court lacks jurisdiction and the case may not proceed.

The goal of an interpleader action is to absolve the stakeholder from the threat of multiple liability by determining which of the claimants is entitled to the stake.
In this case, following Bergstresser’s death and dismissal, the remaining claimants are not adverse because Snawder and Zaremba both claim they are jointly and equally entitled to decedents’ life insurance payment. The adversity formerly present between the claims of Bergstresser and the two sisters no longer exists following Bergstresser’s mandatory dismissal. While it was not necessary for the Bergstresser estate to actually iiiclaimiii a right to the funds, the estate or some other potentially adverse claimant, must nevertheless be joined to the action in order for the court to maintain jurisdiction.

Because Bergstresser is deceased and no party has been substituted as required by Rule 25(a)(1), Bergstresser is dismissed as a defendant in this case. There are no longer any adverse claimants in this interpleader action.

The suit is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Zaremba (Smith) No. 4:11cv52, Aug. 10, 2012; USDC at Newport News, Va.; John B. Flood for plaintiff; Gregory W. Klein for defendant. VLW 012-3-372, 6 pp.

VLW 012-3-372

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